Hinkley bosses halt plans to “deskill” electricians

Grant Prior 2 years ago

Controversial plans to introduce a new grade of electrical operative at the massive Hinkley Point C construction site have been put on hold.

Electricians stage a protest at EDF offices on Wednesday
Electricians stage a protest at EDF offices on Wednesday

The move by client EDF follows complaints from Unite and a campaign by rank-and-file electricians who have threatened widespread demonstrations.

Sparks started the first round of protests last week claiming the plans would lead to a “deskilling” of the industry.

Hinkley client EDF and the MEH Alliance of Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey has been looking to introduce training courses for ‘Electrical Support Operatives’.

The courses introduced by the Engineering Construction Training Board (ECITB) would run alongside existing apprenticeships and qualify most candidates to Level 2 allowing them to eventually support qualified electricians to install cable trays and ladders and help pull cables.

Unite said that would undermine the role of the electrician and raised the issue with EDF who have postponed the training plan “until the problem has been resolved.”

The last attempt to change pay grades in the sector was the ‘BESNA’ reforms in 2011 which were abandoned by employers following a concerted protest campaign by workers.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said “The undermining of the role of the electrician has been attempted for more than 30 years, most recently in 2011/12 when eight of the major mechanical and electrical construction companies promoted the use of non-electrical personnel to carry out skilled electrical tasks under the so called BESNA agreement.

“Unite defeated the BESNA agreement then and we will defeat this latest attempt to deskill electricians.

“Our message to the industry is clear. Unite and its electrical membership will oppose any and all efforts to weaken the skill set of the trade which will undermine the industry by introducing non-skilled operatives.

“Any deskilling of electricians would result in a race to the bottom and would be highly damaging to industrial relations across the sector.”

An EDF spokesperson said: “Productive talks are now taking place to reach agreement on the curriculum of the new training courses.”

The ECITB said: ‘The ECITB was asked by EDF and the MEH Alliance to develop training pathways that create progressive career opportunities in line with the principles agreed within the HPC collective M&E agreement, the ECSA, for new entrants coming onto Hinkley Point C.

“This work commenced in January 2020 and has involved consultation with a wide range of industry stakeholders.

Employer led, the ECITB’s remit is to support the delivery of skills and training in the engineering construction industry.

“This includes supporting new entrants into the industry, so that employers have the skills they need, individuals acquire relevant industry skills to advance their careers and we collectively build capacity for future industry projects.

“The ECITB does not comment on industrial relations matters, which are a matter for the employers and union representatives.”

Latest news

Self-employed labour rates hit record high

Average weekly pay tops £1,000 in London, the South East and East of England.
2 days ago

Network Rail chief takes finance reins at Skanska

Meliha Duymaz is new Chief Financial Officer
2 days ago

Construction Manager of the Year crowned

Kier's Joe O’Connell lands top prize. Full list of winners
3 days ago

Hochtief starts pulling down Welsh pylons

Construction starts on National Grid project
2 days ago

Kier wins London life sciences job

Contractor lands innovative landmark lab development at ARC West London
2 days ago

Social housing bidding opens for £1.5bn energy retrofit cash

First upgrades of social housing stock could start from early next year
3 days ago

Construction arm propels Mace to record profit

Revenue expected to top £2bn this year despite project delays
4 days ago

Fire destroys conveyor belt at Silvertown Tunnel site

Forty firefighters battle blaze at huge London site
3 days ago

Plan for £58m Bristol pharma R&D facility approved

Willmott Dixon in line to build the R&D facility at Bristol & Bath Science Park
3 days ago

Bond Street Elizabeth line station to open next month

Final station on delayed line will welcome passengers in October
3 days ago

Sisk fixes price on £227m Quintain flats job

Quintain signs single-largest contract so far at Wembley Park
4 days ago

Green light for St Helens town centre revamp

English Cities Fund to start phase 1 next April
3 days ago

Rising costs tip William Hare to £3.6m loss

Specialist contractor falls into the red despite near 60% revenue rise to £220m
5 days ago

Safety blitz on “aches, pains and strains” on site

1,000 site visits planned in coming months to check how workers are moving heavy or bulky materials
5 days ago

Drones sent flying underground to check sewers

Traditional inspection teams replaced with latest technology
4 days ago

Plan submitted for 470 Preston flats scheme

Stoneygate Central scheme on Dryden Mill site will rise to 16 storeys
4 days ago

Graham starts £124m M25 Junction 28

Work on the 36-month Junction 28 upgrade includes constructing a major two-lane loop road
4 days ago

Keltbray bags brace of energy infrastructure wins

Civils work on huge converter stations worth £30m to specialist
5 days ago

Balfour Beatty sole winner for £4bn Scape civils deals

Contractor reappointed to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and separate Scottish deals
5 days ago

PR expert Baroness Rock to chair Costain

Kate Rock will take up senior board role at the end of the year
5 days ago

Billington profit upgrade after strong first-half

Steelwork contractor says weaker pound will allow it to reignite its old export markets in Europe
5 days ago

Green light for £120m Liverpool “super restaurant”

Historic Pumphouse at Stanley Dock to be transformed
6 days ago

Tolent bags £15m Sunderland skills academy

Work to start later this year on Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy
5 days ago

Government launches net zero review

Pro-growth and pro-business review of net zero 2050 target launches
6 days ago

L&G Modular wins 400-home Wolverhampton job

Modular specialist wins 17-acre Canalside South regeneration scheme
6 days ago

£1.2bn A12 upgrade accepted for planning

15-mile Essex road upgrade between Chelmsford and Colchester aims for 2023/24 start
6 days ago

US consultant trumps WSP bid for RPS Group

Tetra Tech swoops but WSP could come back with new offer if bidding war breaks out
6 days ago

Sisk hands staff £900 cost of living cash boost

Firm also promises staff £400 Christmas voucher in November
6 days ago

Loathed IR35 reforms scrapped by Chancellor

Contractors will no longer have to determine tax status of freelance workers
1 week ago

Higgins signs deal for 740 West London homes

Work to start this autumn on two Hayes housing estate rebuilds
6 days ago

Contractor services